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The Shelby County cross-country teams are growing, and second-year coach Andrew Danner couldn’t be happier to have 40 runners on his roster.
“We’re pretty excited with the numbers we’ve got; that was our big goal this year,” Danner said.
Both burgeoning teams will open their season Saturday in St. Xavier’s Tiger Run at Louisville Champions Park. The boys’ varsity race begins at 9:30 a.m., with the girls’ race following at 10:15 a.m.
Here is a look at both squads.
After graduating only one member off last season’s team the Rockets will look to improve on their eighth-place finish in Class 2A, Region 3 – arguably the toughest in the state.
“I’m still not going to call us a contender yet, but we’re on the right track,” Danner said.
Leading the way will be senior Logan Hull, who finished in 30th place, running a personal-best in the process, at the region meet last fall. He’ll continue to try and build on that this season. He was the team’s top finisher at Collins’ 3K meet last week but was closely followed by three teammates – sophomore Tristan King, junior Brandon Drane and sophomore Alex Goodwin.
“It was great seeing a large boys pack up with Logan,” Danner said.
King and Goodwin, who was the team’s second-fastest runner at region last year, are returnees, and Drane is a newcomer.
“He’s going to be a top-five varsity runner,” Danner said.
Eighth-graders David Jacobs, who finished 14th at Collins, and sophomore Alex Dunn, also return.
The Rockets also are coming off an eighth-place finish in the region, but they won’t have their best runner of the past two seasons – senior Taylor Webb. She had hip surgery during the summer and will miss the cross-country campaign.
“We’ve got some better numbers, and we’ve got good talent, we just don’t have seven full varsity runners yet,” Danner said. “But we’re very optimistic because we have four solid varsity runners.”
They are senior Jordan Webb, Taylor’s twin sister, junior Kate Schaefer and sophomores Kayce Byrnside and Alexis Shepard.
Byrnside, who was third at Collins’ 3K, finished 27th at the region meet last year, and Webb was 40th. Shepard is coming off a solid freshman season, while Schaefer is a newcomer to the cross country team after running track for the Rockets this past spring. Schaefer didn’t run distance events, though, she ran sprints.
“She’ll be a good varsity runner for us,” Danner said. “You hardly ever see someone go from running the two hundred and four hundred to running cross country, but she’s capable of doing that.”
Schaefer finished seventh in the Collins 3K, while Webb was eighth and Shepard ninth.
“All four varsity girls looked strong,” Danner said. “If qualifying for state as a team doesn’t work out I think we’re capable of sending those four to state.”
Rockets at a glance
Last season:Both Rocket teams finished eighth at the Class 2A, Region 3 meet last fall.
Boys’ key loss:Thomas Harnois.
Girls’ key losses:Haley Miller, Taylor Webb.
Boys’ returning runners:Logan Hull, Eric Spurlock, Alex Dunn, Mason Daughtery, Alex Goodwin, David Jacobs, Tristan King, Jack Daugherty.
Girls’ returning runners:Jordan Webb, Kayce Brynside, Alexis Shepard.